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UT’s College of Architecture and Design was recently awarded the 2016 Honor Award by the American Institute of Architects East Tennessee for its design of the Beardsley Farm Education Center, a project of the college’s design/build program.

The center also earned the organization’s 2016 People’s Choice Award and Member’s Choice award, decided by popular vote. Completed in 2016, the center provides a classroom, office spaces, and restrooms for local residents, volunteers, and farm staff.

Beardsley Farm Education Center
Beardsley Farm Education Center

The center was designed and largely built by UT students, led by architecture professors Jennifer Akerman and Bob French. More than 50 students from across the college contributed through coursework and service, designing and building a center that advances Beardsley Community Farm’s mission of engaging the community through education, service, and public outreach.

“We are thrilled that our students have been recognized by AIA for their work on this project,” said Akerman. “From conception to construction, they collaborated with peers, professionals, and farm officials to create a public space that benefits the community.  Transformative experiences such as this prepare students to serve the community as innovative design professionals.”

The college and its professional partner in the project, Elizabeth Eason Architecture, were the sole recipients of the 2016 Honor Award, which is AIAET’s highest honor. The jury, composed of six practicing architects from across the country, noted the significant student involvement. Judges noted that the design fosters community involvement and addresses critical social issues.

For 40 years, the UT College of Architecture and Design’s design/build program has offered experiential learning opportunities to prepare students for careers in design.  Through exploration, collaboration, and mission-driven innovation, it applies design excellence, environmental performance, and social responsibility to many challenges in the built environment to positively impact society.

The AIAET Design Awards Program salutes excellence in architecture and seeks to honor built and unbuilt works of distinction designed by AIA members in East Tennessee. National AIA is considered the foremost professional architecture association in the nation, with nearly 300 state and local chapters.


Amanda Johnson (865-974-6401,

Tyra Haag (865-974-5460,